Pearl growing

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Pearl growing is a metaphor taken from the process of small bits of sand growing to make a beautiful pearl, which is used in information literacy. Pearl Growing is in this context the process of using one information item (like a subject term or citation) to find more information. This search strategy is most successfully employed at the beginning of the research process as the searcher uncovers new pearls about his or her topic.

Citation pearl growing[edit]

Citation pearl growing is the act of using one relevant source, or citation, to find more relevant sources on a topic. The searcher usually has a document that matches a topic or information need. From this document, the searcher is able to find other keywords, descriptors and themes to use in a subsequent search.[1] Citation Pearl Growing is a popular search and retrieval method used by librarians.[2]

Subject pearl growing[edit]

Subject pearl growing is a strategy used in an electronic database that has subject or keyword descriptors. By clicking on one subject, the searcher is able to find other related subjects and subdivisions that may or may not be useful to the search.

Internet pearl growing[edit]

Searchers use the pearl growing technique when surfing the Internet. Using the theory that websites that link to each other are similar, a searcher can move from site to site, collecting information. Ramer (2005) suggests pearl growing by using the pearl as a search term in search engines or even in the URL.


  1. ^ Markey, K. & Cochrane, P. 1981. ONTAP: Online Training and Practice Manual for ERIC Database Searchers, 2nd edn, Syracuse University, N.Y. October 1981. ERIC Clearinghouse on Information Resources.
  2. ^ Ramer, S (2005). "Site-ation pearl growing: Methods and librarianship history and theory". Journal of the Medical Library Association. 93 (3): 397–400. PMC 1175807. PMID 16059431.

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